Posted by: Jim E | February 24, 2010

The Brow of the Hill…

I don’t really know why these things come to mind…but they do…and they lead me to think about them in many ways…like the phrase…”the brow of the hill”…I just love that phrase…

We were driving the other day and I noticed something they were doing in a new housing addition…they are building it behind our house to the Southeast…we are surrounded by hills and mountains…none of them very high…and I am always calling them “hills”…but they are really, officially mountains…they all have names and are part of the Ouachita Mountains…

As we were driving I looked over at the work they were doing in the new development…I said, “Look what they are doing just over the brow of the hill.” and pointed to what I thought they were doing “over the brow of the hill”…It was what I “thought” they were doing…because you can’t see “over the brow of the hill”…because over “the brow of the hill” is beyond our sight…the “brow” is the top or crest or peak or tip or crown of the hill…the hill will by definition fall off precipitously to the bottom on the other side…so all I could do is guess what they were doing…

In Luke 4:29-30 the people in Nazareth, Jesus home town, couldn’t take what Jesus was teaching anymore…and took him out of town “to ‘the brow of the hill’ on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.”…he had already told them, “No prophet is accepted in his own country.”…and went his way…

So you see, I couldn’t see over the brow of the hill…I could only guess as to what was happening there…and then in my mind I was young again…10 or 11 maybe…my friend and I were sitting on the brow of a hill…it was along the railroad tracks, about two miles from home…but it may as well have been a hundred miles…and a hundred years…not the 1950’s, but the 1850’s…and we were not close to home but far out in the prairie…pioneers traveling West…or Indians living on the prairie…

It was a high bluff…grass covered and a giant oak tree was right beside us…we were young adventurers…maybe pioneers, maybe Indians…guns and knives in hand, ready for anything but mostly whittling sticks, fighting make-believe enemies…we could see over the brow of the hill…it was very steep down to the tracks…so steep we couldn’t climb it…but we had walked there with our lunches to spend the day…waiting for the train to come by…or waiting for anything to pass…playing down the hill behind us and then coming back to the brow of the hill…

In those heady days of youth when anything was possible…we often left the house in the morning and didn’t get home until we got hungry…or unless Mom told us we had to be home at a certain time…I didn’t have a watch…not quite that rich…so we must have told time by the sun…because pioneers and Indians knew how to tell time by the sun…straight up was noon and from there we free wheeled it…that’s how I remember we told time…no clocks, watches, cell phones, etc…I think it was a little more fun…but of course I didn’t know anything else…so it just was…

And now my mind takes me to one of the first times we traveled to Montana from Minnesota, many years later…on Interstate 94…we stopped at a rest stop…(it was a place I looked for many times after that…but found out they closed that particular rest stop)…in the back of the visitor center…was a grassy area and a fence…as I looked over the fence and out onto the prairie, it was beautiful…a pond with ducks, fields of wheat…it went on and on…rolling hills, gullies, ravines and valleys…as far as I could see…and way out there was a ranch…tucked in one of those valleys…a house, barn and outbuildings…I thought what it might be like for those people to live there…and what it was like for the plains Indians to live on this prairie that goes on and on…

I spent some time thinking about that prairie…how could the Indians find their way out here…or this family who homesteaded this place…how did they know over which rolling hill was their home?…the more I looked…the more I saw how different each hill was…how different each gully, each ravine, each valley was from the other…

And the more time I looked, I could see as I had as a 10 or 11 year old so many years before…I was home…I was looking over “the brow of the hill”…into a world that was gone forever…but it was a reminder of how wonderful it was…and how wonderful life is…to see all this wonder at my age and still be thrilled by it…

How blessed it is to still see over “the brow of the hill”…it is a little bit of forever…

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